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How can one do a complete solar system installation at home?


Well there are plenty of resources that explain how to fit solar systems. Chances are if you are unaware of any of them, or how electrical installations should be done then maybe you need to get the pros to fit some for you.

I’m quite technical and will try any job, preferring greatly to do it myself and learn new skills in the process than have others do the job for me. But when it comes to walking around on the roof of my two storey house, 25-30ft up in the air, and attaching brackets and frames, not for me.

Now a ground mounted array in your garden is much easier to do and has far less chance of breaking your roof or you falling off it.

Once you’ve chosen a place that is in perpetual sunlight, no shade at any time of day, allowing for angulation to the optimum for your latitude (look it up), and facing due south (northern hemisphere) or due north (southern hemisphere) you install and secure the panels to a frame. Connect them up often in series to produce high voltage but low current which allows small cables. Connect this via an isolator to an inverter. This turns dc into AC so you can power devices.

Now you have a choice of off grid or grid tied.

Off grid, you either use the power as its being generated, but this isn’t ideal you don’t want your washing machine to stop running when a cloud floats past. So you also have batteries, to buffer, stiffen and store energy. You’ll need a lot of panels and batteries if you want a grid-level of service and a backup generator for when the sun hasn’t shone for a while.

Grid tied is easier. You stay on the grid but you use your locally generated energy first. You don’t need batteries. It’s cheaper. But the inverters are more expensive, you have to use the right type, which will shut off in the event of a power cut so you don’t end up trying to supply the whole neighbourhood. There is one major drawback and that is a lot of the time you are not actually using all of the power, let’s say you have 4kw of panels and it’s a bright sunny day. Your home is probably only using 400w unless you have aircon or electric heaters on. So 3.6kw is supplying your neighbours with power, you are getting nothing for it.

Some countries like the UK had a feed in tarriff scheme. I get paid for each kWh I generate. But this ends soon as solar systems are much cheaper than they used to be.

Of course your install needs to be electrically safe, waterproof, and labelled correctly so that anyone attending to deal with an electrical problem or a fire, knows what is installed and how to turn it off. A shock from a string of large solar panels will be painful at best, fatal in many cases DC current at high voltage is not to be messed with without due care.

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